While success is often said to be the result of good planning, one could argue that a plan is only as good as the team executing it. From conceptualizing the stage design to crafting an engaging run of show, event production is a collaborative art not for the faint of heart, especially when the intention behind a brand activation is to honor philanthropic achievements and celebrate those making an impact.
Now in its 13th year, Variety’s Power of Women event, presented by Lifetime, is an homage to women in the entertainment industry who are leading the charge and dedicating their time offscreen to supporting various charities and causes. As Power of Women, which takes place twice a year in New York and Los Angeles, continues to grow and expand, Variety and its collaborators take great care in executing an event that, as the name suggests, is all about elevating and empowering women. As such, it is only fitting that a conscious effort is made to hire vendors of different backgrounds to produce an event of such magnitude, with an emphasis on partnering with women-owned and operated companies.
“This year’s theme was empowered women, empowering others,” says Jamie Aronson, Variety’s managing director of event marketing. “I felt Variety needed to extend this theme to all aspects of the event by focusing on new and longtime partnerships within our design and production teams. More than 50% of the Power of Women production is led by women, and that’s something I’m very proud of.”
For Aronson, who has been planning and producing Power of Women since 2018, the opportunity to amplify women has never been exclusive to the honorees being celebrated. From enlisting women-owned businesses for event security and production design to serving wine from women-owned wineries at the bar, the importance of showcasing the power of women from a production standpoint is a responsibility Aronson takes seriously — and allows Variety to lead the industry by example.
This year, Aronson commissioned a slew of partners to bring the Los Angeles event to life, including returning partner Gold Sky Productions, a full-spectrum creative event agency founded by April Luca; production design firm Vita Motus Design Studio; floral and design studio Moon Canyon; and wineries A.R. Lenoble, Villa Di Corlo, Alphonse Mellot, Giornata and Luli.
“This event has grown this year with a magnificent new stage design, as every year we reinterpret the stage to truly be a place for these honorees to be featured for their impact,” explains Luca, whose company has worked on past installments of the Power of Women franchise. “Since the first year I was fortunate enough to produce this event, there are always moments that inspire, teaching moments and ones so powerful that there is a feeling — an overwhelming feeling of joy and excitement, like we are really making a change in the world — that comes over the crowd; everyone is affected by the movement in the world this event and its honorees signifies.”
For Heather Shaw, CEO and founder of Vita Motus Design Studio, whose team crafted the bespoke stage design for this year’s event, working alongside other women has been personally and professionally gratifying.
“The most rewarding part of this project has been getting to work closely with the women-led teams from Variety and Gold Sky Productions to create a stage as a tribute to these remarkable honorees who are making such a difference,” says Shaw. “Sixteen years ago, when I began working in this industry, it was rare to find any women in production at this level. It really does feel like a discernible shift from when I began, and that’s exciting.”
With collaboration at the forefront, Shaw and the Vita Motus team created a “clean, sophisticated stage” in order to “compliment the lofty purpose driving the event,” utilizing a minimalistic, bright white proscenium to frame the ceremony. Additionally, they created a wide upstage LED wall and extended the set as “digital scenery,” allowing for visual cohesion throughout the different design elements.
When designing for an event of such scale and dynamism, the energy of what Power of Women represents doubles as a source of inspiration. “This event brings not only recognition to these powerful women, but also allows us to witness how they have enacted true and meaningful change in the world,” adds Shaw. “It’s truly inspiring and encourages us all to act.”
Similarly, Kristen Caissie, founder of floral design studio Moon Canyon, observes how Variety’s Power of Women franchise represents a creative community whose impact is felt long after the red carpet was rolled up, the livestream concluded and attendees scoured through their gift bags.
“Being recognized by your peers and celebrating this community of creative women is so important right now,” says Caissie, who describes the opportunity to collaborate with all women-led businesses as “rare.”
“This event creates a sense of belonging amongst women which fills a gap in the industry at large. The more women can acknowledge one another, celebrate our achievements and collaborate, the more we will be able to achieve our goals.”
As the floral designer behind this year’s event, Caissie explains that her team took inspiration from the season, working with jewel tones and late summer florals to create artistically arranged pieces for the tables.
“With every detail, we think about the impact on the guest experience,” adds Aronson. “We want attendees to be transported; we want to offer more than just another industry event. This is the biggest production we have on our events slate at Variety. The real reward is seeing the transformation of our vision come to life.”